EEA and EU expat nurses flee NHS due to Brexit uncertainty

Published:  26 Apr at 6 PM
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In 2017, almost four thousand EU and EEA-qualified expat nurses left their NHS jobs and the UK.

A total of 3,962 fully qualified and experienced nurses and midwives from EEA and EU member states have now left their NHS jobs and moved on out of the UK. The number is some 28 per cent higher than the 2016 figure and three times as high as the 2013 figure of 1,311. Arrival numbers in 2017 have crashed to 803, as against the 6,382 qualified nurses and midwives who arrived in the previous year.

The key cause of the dramatic increase in leavers as against the equally dramatic drop in new arrivals is being put down to the British government’s refusal to guarantee the post-Brexit rights of the three million EU citizens at present in the UK. According to CEO of the Royal College of Nursing Janet Davies, previous efforts to boost the numbers of European-trained nurses are now being negated by a botched Brexit.

Interviews conducted on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Council with a number of those leaving the UK revealed 47 per cent made the decision based on fears of Brexit, with almost 60 per cent saying they’ve already left or are planning to leave. Traditionally, Spain, Portugal and Italy were the most prolific for the recruitment of EU-trained nurses, with the three countries now a desert as regards recruitment. As a result, figures now show nurse shifts falling short in almost every UK hospital.

According to shadow heath secretary Jonathan Ashworth, the figures are yet more evidence of the effect on the NHS of the government’s shambolic Brexit policies. He added making it clear immediately after the referendum that expat nurses and midwives are and will continue to be more than welcome would at least have served as reassurance for these much-needed professionals.
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